Aka Kin - 赤金 - red gold, gold alloyed with copper.
Amida Yasuri - 阿弥陀鑢 - lines cut in the tsuba radiating out from the center. Symbolizes Buddha's halo.
Ana - 穴 - hole, opening in the tsuba; see hitsu ana, nakago ana, udenuki ana, etc.
Аo Kin - 青金 - pale gold, gold alloyed with silver.
Aoi - 葵 - literally - hollyhock - Alcea rosea (“tachi aoi” -立葵). However more often it means "futaba aoi" (双葉葵) - Asarum caulescens, known as wild ginger.
Ategane - 当金 - a metal plug placed in the Kozuka or Kogai-ana. Also refered to as Ume (埋).
Bori - 彫 - surface carving.
Воtan - 牡丹 - peony.
Chidori - 千鳥 - plover, a kind of bird often used in tsuba design.
Chu - 中 - medium sized, middle.
Dai - 大 - large, daito tsuba.
Danbira - 断平 - the width of a tsuba.
Dote Mimi - 土手耳 - a raised rim on a tsuba.
Eda Botan - 枝牡丹 - peony branch.
Fuchi - 縁 - the often ornamented collar on the sword handle next to the tsuba.
Fukurin - 覆輪 - a rim cover added to a tsuba, usually, but not always, a soft metal.
Gata - 形 - shape.
Gimei - 偽銘 - false signature.
Gin - 銀 - silver, also called shirogane.
Goishi - 碁石 - shaped like a go stone; thinner toward the edge.
Gumbai - 軍配 - a war fan.
Gunto - 軍刀 - general name of new army swords from 1876 to 1945.
Ha - 刃 - the cutting edge of a sword; a group or "school" of makers.
Hachi Mokko Gata - 八木瓜形 - mokko shape with eight lobes.
Hagane - 鋼 - steel; edge metal.
Hako-gaki - 箱書き - an inscription sometimes with attribution applied to wooden fittings boxes.
Hamidashi - 喰出し - A tsuba for a tanto, which is only slightly wider than the fuchi.
Hira - 平 - flat, also the flat part of the tsuba plate.
Hira Zogan - 平象嵌 - inlay that is flush with the surface of the tsuba.
Hiraji - 平地 - surface of the tsuba.
Hitsu Ana - 櫃穴 - the openings in the tsuba for the kozuka and or kogai.
Ikezukashi - 生透 - negative design openwork (same as Kage Sukashi).
Inaka Mono - 田舎物 - work of a country artist.
Inome - 猪の目 - looks like a heart to us, but it was a boar's eye to the old Japanese.
Iri Mokko Gata - 入木瓜形 - a mokko shape with deep cuts to the lobes.
Iroe - 色繪 - colored picture, referring to designs in various color metals.
Irogane - 色金 - colored metal, refers to various soft metals.
Ishime Ji - 石目地 - a punched plate finish texture that resembles stone.
Ita - 板 - plate.
Ito - 糸 - fine or thread, ito sukashi, ito bori, etc.
Ito fukurin - 糸覆輪 - a very thin style of fukurin.
Ito sukashi - 糸透 - very thin, thread like openwork.
Ji - 地 - the ground or plate of a tsuba, (with a different kanji refers to a written character).
Ji Sukashi - 地透 - positive design openwork (same as Yo Sukashi).
Jigane (Shingane) - 地金 (心鉄) - the base metal the plate is made of.
Jingasa - 陣笠 - a Japanese soldier's hat.
Juzu - 数珠 - beads, and the style of rim that resembles them.
Kabuto - 兜 冑 - a Japanese armor helmet.
Kaga zogan - 加賀象嵌 - a style of flush, colored metal inlay used in Kaga on fittings and stirrups.
Kagamishi - 鏡師 - Kagamishi a mirror maker, believed to have made cast bronze tsuba.
Kage Sukashi - 影絵透 - see Ikezukashi.
Kaji - 鍛冶 - sword maker, blacksmith.
Kakihan - 書き判 - a stamped or carved artist's seal. Literally means "written seal".
Kaku - 角 - square.
Kaku Gata - 角形 - square shaped.
Kaku Mimi - 角耳 - square rim.
Kaku Mimi Koniku - 角耳小肉 - a square rim with slight rounding, or "meat" to it.
Kakumaru Gata - 角丸形 - square shaped with extremely rounded corners.
Kanagu - 金具 - metal parts of the sword mounting not considered kodogu (seppa, habaki).
Kane - 金 - metal (same kanji pronounced kin means gold).
Kan-mimi - 管耳 - thicker rounder raised rims. Thicker and rounder than Dote Mimi .
Kao - 花押 - a signature in form of monogram (stylized kanji). The word is a compound of two kanji: "flower" and "to impress one's signature". Together they convey the sense of "a beautiful, flowerlike signature".
Karakuri - からくり - inlay attached to the plate with a pin.
Karakusa - 唐草 - an arabesque design motif of vines or branches.
Kashira - 頭 - the often ornamented cap on the end of the handle of the sword.
Katachibori - 容彫 - carved with a full motif.
Katakiribori - 片切彫 - a style of carving with a variety of line thickness and depth.
Katchushi - 甲冑師 - armor maker. Also a style of tsuba, which are considered to be made by armorsmiths.
Kawagane - 皮鉄 - a thin layer of different (usually harder) iron on the outside surface of a tsuba.
Kawari Gata - 変形 - different, variant shape.
Kebori - 毛彫 - fine line engraving or carving.
Kenjo - 献上 - a generic heavily decorated style of tsuba made for giving as a gift.
Kiku - 菊 - chrysanthemum. Kikugata chrysanthemum shaped.
Kin (Kane) - 金 - gold / metal in general.
Kinko - 金工 - metal worker, commonly refers to fancy soft metal tsuba.
Kittate - 切立 - very straight walled sukashi.
Ко - 小 (古) - small (or old), depending on the kanji used.
Koban - 小判 - an old Japanese gold coin, used to describe a shape of seppa dai.
Kodogu - 小道具 - the metal fittings of a sword mounting.
Kogai Hitsu (Ana) - 笄櫃 - the opening in the tsuba for the kogai (hair arranging tool).
Kokuin - 刻印 - a hot stamped surface design.
Koshirae - 拵 - the whole mounting of a sword.
Ко-sukashi - 小透 - small perforations, such as a single flower, or number of perforations of small size.
Kozuka Hitsu (Ana) - 小柄櫃 - Kozuka hitsu the opening in the tusba for the kozuka (utility knife).
Kuchibeni (Sekigane) - 口紅 (責金) - the small bits of soft metal added to the nakago ana to fit the tsuba to a sword. May be used also in the hitsu ana to prevent kozuka and kogai being damaged by tsuba of harder material.
Kuni - 国 - the old provinces of Japan, country.
Kusarakashi - 腐らかし - a surface treatment produced by intentional corrosion or etching.
Маdo - 窓 - window.
Маru - 丸 - round.
Maru Gata - 丸形 (圓形) - round shaped.
Маru Mimi - 丸耳 - round rim.
Matsukawabishi - 松皮菱 - a linked diamond shaped pattern, representing pine bark/tree.
Mei - 銘 - signature.
Migaki Ji - 磨地 - smooth surface finish on a tsuba.
Mimi - 耳 - the rim of the tsuba. (the dictionary definition is ear, which sort of makes sense).
Mokko Gata - 木瓜形 - the lobed shape.
Mokume Ji - 杢目地 - the steel is etched to bring out the pattern of the folding.
Mumei - 無銘 - unsigned.
Mune - 棟 - the back edge of the sword.
Nagamaru Gata - 長丸形 - oval shaped.
Nagegaku Gata - 撫角形 - a rounded off, slightly oval, square shape.
Nakabiku - 中低 - tsuba with the seppa dai lower (thinner) than the mimi.
Nakadaka - 中高 - tsuba with the seppa dai higher (thicker) than the mimi.
Nakago Ana - 中心穴 - the opening for the nakago (sword tang) to pass through.
Nanako - 魚子 - a punched pattern of raised dots, usually on soft metal fittings.
Nawa Mimi - 縄耳 - a rope pattern edge.
Nerikawa Tsuba - 練革鍔 - a guard made out of leather.
Niku - 肉 - meat, usually refers to thickness, swelling or rounding of the metal.
Niku Bori Ji Sukashi - 肉彫地透 - Ji Sukashi in which engraving has been done on the motif, instead of leaving a plain piece of openwork.
Nikuoki - 肉置き - overall arrangement of the metal in the piece. A pleasing variation on the surface by being well forged and hammered.
Nunome Zogan - 布目象嵌 - the surface of the tsuba is cut with a cross hatch pattern and metal is pressed in.
Odawara Fukurin - 小田原市覆輪 - a style of rim cover with a row of raised bumps.
Okigane - 置金 - soldered on inlay.
Omote - 表 - the front side.
Ototsu - 凹凸 - irregular thickness.
Rogin - 鑞金 - an alloy of copper and silver, also see shibuichi.
Sakura - 桜 - Japanese flowering cherry (lat. Prunus serrulata). A species of decorative trees in the family Rosaceae.
Sawari - 佐波理 - an alloy of tin, lead and copper, used as inlay on Hazama tsuba.
Sekigane (Kuchibeni) - 責金 (口紅) - the small bits of soft metal added to the nakago ana to fit the tsuba to a sword. Also soft metal insertions in hitsu ana, protecting kogai and kozuka from scratches.
Sen Zogan - 線象嵌 - line inlay.
Sendai Yasuri - 仙台鑢 - vertical file marks, tsuba with these are always attributed to Sendai.
Sentoku - 宣徳 - an alloy of copper, lead and zinc.
Seppa - 切羽 - the "washers" used on either side of the tsuba in a sword mounting.
Seppa Dai - 切羽台 - the "table" or area on the tsuba covered by the seppa, usually has no decoration.
Shakudo - 赤銅 - and alloy of copper and 3-6% gold; blue-black color.
Shibuichi - 四分一 - a 4 to 1 alloy of copper and silver; gray-silver color.
Shigure Yasuri - 時雨鑢 - vertical file marks made to look like falling rain.
Shikunshi - 四君子 - The "Four Gentlemen": Ume, orchid, bamboo and chrysanthemum. Flowers which mirror positive human traits. Borrowed from the Chinese and linked to Confucian concepts. Also usually have seasonal associations.
Shinchu - 真鍮 - brass, yellow metal; old Japanese/Chinese brass looks different from modern.
Shippo - 七宝 - cloisonné.
Shiremono - 仕入物 - mass produced work.
Shishiai Bori (Nikuai bori) - 肉合彫 - low relief carving below the level of the tsuba surface.
Sho - 小 - small, wakizashi tsuba.
Shōchikubai - 松竹梅 - The Three Friends of Winter: The pine, bamboo and plum. All of them are symbols of winter, long life, and the cultured gentleman.
Sosho - 草書 - literally means "grass script", a cursive style of writing.
Suaka (Akagane) - 素銅 (赤金) - very refined copper that shows an orange-red hue when patinated.
Suemon - 据紋 - inlay of slightly raised metal covering a large area of the plate.
Sukashi (sukashibori) - 透 (透彫) - cut out open work.
Sukidashi (Sukibori) - 鋤出 (鋤彫) - a carving technique that leaves the design raised rather than cut in.
Sukinokoshi Mimi - 鋤残耳 - a raised rim produced by carving away the central portion of the surface of a tsuba.
Suritsuke Zogan - 摺付象嵌 - see Nunome Zogan.
Tachi-kanagushi - 太刀金具師 - a tachi fitting maker.
Tagane Ato - 鏨跡 - literally 'punch marks'. These refer to the punch marks left around the tsuba's Nakago ana to help facilitate at tighter fit of the tsuba on the sword.
Takabori (takanikubori) - 高彫 (高肉彫) - high relief "3D" carving.
Takaniku Zogan - 高肉象嵌 - high relief inlay.
Tekkotsu - 鉄骨 - iron bones: lumps of high carbon material visible on the tsuba, usually in the rim.
Ten Zogan - 点象嵌 - dot inlay.
Tetsu - 鉄 - iron.
Tetsugendo - 鉄元堂 - "Hall of the Iron Principle", a school founded in Kyoto by Okamoto Naoshige in the XVIII century. Okamoto Naoshige was born in Choshu and moved to Kyoto. He was a pupil of Kuniharu. Died in 1780.
Toban - 刀盤 - an old term for tsuba.
Tosho - 刀匠 - sword maker. Also a style of tsuba, which are considered to be made by swordsmiths.
Tosogu - 刀装具 - the parts of the mounting in general.
Tsuba - 鍔(鐔) - Japanese sword guard.
Tsubaka - 鍔家 - tsuba lover.
Tsubako - 鍔工 - tsuba maker.
Tsuchime - 槌目 - hammer marks.
Tsuchime Ji - 槌目地 - tsuba with the surface finished in visible hammer marks.
Uchikaeshi Mimi - 打返耳 - a dote (raised) mimi (rim) hammered from the plate and turned back.
Udenuki Ana - 腕貫穴 - two small holes by the lower rim of some tsuba representing sun and moon.
Ume - 梅 - Chinese plum or Japanese apricot (lat. Prunus mume). A species of Asian plum in the family Rosaceae. Was brought to Japan from China in VIII century. Also see Ategane.
Ura - 裏 - the back side.
Uttori - うっとり - attachment of inlay around its edges only.
Wa Mimi - 輪耳 - ring shaped mimi (rim).
Yakite Shitate - 焼手仕立 - a melted surface finish.
Yamagane - 山金 - ("mountain metal") unrefined copper, also called nigurome.
Yanone (Ya-no Ne) - 矢の根 - Japanese arrow head.
Yasuri - 鑢 - file marks or lines cut in the plate of the tsuba.
Yo Sukashi - 陽透 - see Ji Sukashi.
Zaimei - 在銘 - with Mei, signed.
Zogan - 象嵌 - inlayed metal.
Zu - 図 - figure or theme.
on the base of Tsuba Terms by Jim Gilbert.
periods in japanese history
Early Japan - before 710.
Nara - 奈良時代 - from 710 to 794.
Heian - 平安時代 - from 794 to 1185.
Kamakura - 鎌倉時代 - from 1185 to 1333.
Nambokucho - 南北朝時代 - from 1333 to 1392.
Muromachi - 室町時代 - from 1392 to 1573.
Momoyama - 桃山時代 - from 1573 to 1603.
Edo - 江戸時代 - from 1603 to 1868.
Meiji - 明治時代 - from 1868 to 1912.
Taisho - 大正時代 - from 1912 to 1926.
Showa - 昭和時代 - from 1926 to 1989.
Heisei - 平成時代 - from 1989 to present.